Debaters Go Off!

Menaka Garapaty, Editor-in-Chief

The Olathe North Debate team has had a successful past few seasons, especially with a large number of recent accomplishments. The squad started off the school year strong with both novice (first-year) and DCI division debaters placing at some of the biggest tournaments in Kansas and Oklahoma. Their accomplishments have not come easy though; preparing for a debate tournament is a great time commitment, and competing with others of the same work ethic requires going the extra mile. 

Sophomore Lynn Setter is a second-year debater and extremely involved in the program. She is proud of her season so far, especially with her first-place finish at the Olathe South tournament with her partner, senior Alex Brake. She hopes to only better her performance as the semester progresses.

“So far my tournaments have gone pretty well,” Setter said. “I placed third and first at my first two tournaments, and I am starting to level up in my competition.”

The novice debaters are also collecting their fair share of medals. The competitors started their high school debate experience with multiple placements in 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 8th. Setter is excited to see the novices grow and continue their successes.

“I believe that the older kids have the ability to go far, but especially the novices,” Setter said.

Some of the biggest wins for ON Debate are accredited to third-year debaters junior Andrew Dai and senior Isobel Li, a strong team who has proved their high skill over the years. At a tournament in Oklahoma, Dai and Li advanced to the partial octofinals as they competed against some of the best teams in the nation. Additionally, they debated with some of Kansas’s top teams at Washburn Rural and finished with a successful 7-1 record. Dai is ready to take on further challenges this season.

“[Isobel and I] are going to a tournament in Chicago with 120+ teams which is the biggest tournament all year,” Dai said.

The number of top finishes accomplished by the Olathe North debate teams are rewarding, but the victory does not come easy for the participants. Hours of preparation are required to gain a strong understanding of the season’s debate topic, as well as to develop a strong case and thorough arguments. 

During a debate round, there is an affirmative and negative side. The affirmative must propose a policy that supports the given resolution or topic. The negative’s job is to use on-case (cited evidence) and off-case (evidence of their own) arguments to prove to the judges that the affirmative case fails to solve the issue at hand. The work prior to the tournament is lengthy, and the actual competition is not easy either. 

“During a debate tournament, you don’t have much time off,” Setter said. “As we say, ‘it’s not a debate tournament if it’s running on time.’ We debate for about an hour and a half, going back and forth like a pendulum. We rant afterwards and go to the next round. It could be monotonous but it’s always fun to hear the different arguments.”

Setter explains debate can be a high anxiety event for anxious people. She thanks coaches Richard Belske and Larry Swanson for providing support to her and the rest of the debaters.

“Debate would not be nearly as special to me if the [coaches] weren’t there to keep me going, and honestly I would have never had the success I have without them,” Setter said.

Olathe North Debate is a strong program that is only growing in talent. As the season progresses, debaters will continue to work hard to represent Olathe North in the state and beyond.